Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Sonia's emissary meets Nepal Maoist chief
By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
September 3rd, 2007

Kathmandu : Abhishek Manu Singhvi, India's Congress party spokesman, Monday met Nepal's top Maoist leaders here, marking the first open contact between the party that leads the ruling alliance in New Delhi and the communist guerrillas who till last year were officially branded as a terrorist organisation in India.

Singhvi, who is in Kathmandu ostensibly to attend a programme relating to Nepal's new constitution, organised by Nepali NGO B.P. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation, met Maoist supremo Prachanda and his deputy Baburam Bhattarai at a hotel.

Singhvi, a sitting MP and legal expert, is seen as Congress president Sonia Gandhi's emissary here.

Details of the meeting were not available immediately. At a press conference this morning, Singhvi said the constituent assembly election, due in November should decide the fate of Nepal's 238-year-old monarchy.

Since last month, the Maoists, who had earlier agreed to the election, have begun campaigning for the abolition of monarchy before the polls. They argue that King Gyanendra would do his best to scuttle the election that could jeopardise his crown.

Singhvi also said that India was ready to offer all possible support for the Nov 22 election.

The Indian MP's visit to Kathmandu comes at a time when several Maoist leaders have been accusing India of manipulating the ongoing movement in the Terai plains to weaken the Maoists.

One of the newly emerging forces from the plains, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, last month signed a pact with the government, to the Maoists' discomfiture.

The pact says Maoists would have to return the arms and public property they seized. The rebels have refused to heed the demand, and asked the government to scrap the provision.

The rebels called the pact a conspiracy by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress party, regarded by some here as being close to India, and a ploy to promote the Forum and its chief Upendra Yadav.

Since then, the turmoil in the Terai has increased. Yadav's peers have accused him or betraying the Terai cause. Four of the seven members of the Forum's central committee Sunday said they had expelled Yadav, indicating a split soon in the Forum.

According to the earlier schedule announced by the B.P. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation, Singhvi was to have been in the resort town of Dhulikhel Monday to take part in a two-day seminar.

While India has been urging Nepal to put its institution of monarchy to vote in the November election, the Maoists are saying they are not opposing the polls.

Prachanda says his party would take part in the election to choose a panel that would write a new constitution for Nepal and end all discriminations.

However, he also says that royalists would try to defer the election once again. To prevent that, his party is asking parliament to proclaim Nepal a republic before Nov 22 to ensure that the polls are not deferred yet again.


Post a Comment

<< Home